Without a car battery, your engine wouldn’t start, and you’d be stuck where you are.
Of course, your car battery does more than start the vehicle. It also creates the power necessary for both the ignition and electrical systems. Think of your battery as your car’s lifeline. Without it, your car won’t function.
How long should a car battery last?
How a battery works
A lot of things around your home run off of battery power. From your smartphone to a smoke detector, batteries ensure you have enough power to the device to make it function.
When you turn the key in the ignition, it’s the car battery that provides the jolt of power needed to power up the electrical components in your vehicle. The car battery converts chemical energy into electrical energy, and provides enough force to send voltage to the starter. It also provides a steady stream of electrical current to stabilize this energy and keep the engine running.
That’s a lot of work for one little box underneath the hood of your car.
Depending on the make and manufacturer, a car battery is designed to last anywhere from 3 to 5 years. How long your battery will last depends on things like:
Short trips of 20 minutes or less can actually shorten the lifespan of your car battery. Each time you start your car, it uses battery power. When you make short trips around your community, it doesn’t give the charging system enough time to fully recharge the battery. By integrating short and longer trips throughout the day, it works to keep your car battery healthy and in good working condition.
Don’t think that leaving your car parked for extended periods of time won’t impact the battery. They naturally self-discharge over time. It’s better to disconnect the battery and remove it, or use a trickle charger designed to keep the battery at a constant charge level as it sits.
Also be wary of allowing your car battery to completely wear down through the use of electronics. Various car accessories like headlamps, interior lights, and the radio drain power from the car battery. That’s why if you forget to turn the lights off, it can impact your car starting the following day. Avoid using accessories for extended periods if you aren’t operating your car.
Here in Colorado, we can have widely changing temperatures within a short period of time. Throughout the year, your car may deal with below zero temperatures, followed by heatwaves in the triple digits in the summertime. That’s a lot for your batter to deal with.
Protecting your car battery from these extreme fluctuations will extend its life. If you have a garage, keeping your car inside during extreme weather will protect the battery from deterioration.
If you pop the hood and look underneath, you may discover corrosion around the battery box. Corroded batteries weaken the battery’s charge, which can impact its lifespan. You can keep corrosion at a minimum by scrubbing it with a mixture of baking soda and water, then wiping away the residue including dirt or grease.
Batteries won’t go bad overnight. By regularly testing it, you can watch how much amperage it’s putting out. We can test it when you come in for regular maintenance to ensure it’s operating well.
Is your car telling you it’s time for a new battery?
While you can give your car battery a long lifespan with proper maintenance and paying attention to your driving conditions, eventually it will wear out. It doesn’t suddenly fail without warning signs first.
When you see corrosion building up around the positive and negative battery terminals, it’s a sign the battery is weakening. You can clean it, but be aware it’s showing signs of age.
Slow engine crank
When your battery is working well, your car should gain power immediately upon turning the key. If it’s slow to react, that’s a sign your battery is weak.
Check engine or battery light
Today’s technology is designed to warn you of potential problems long before they cause you an issue. At the first sign of a dashboard light, bring your car in so we can use diagnostic tools to determine what’s wrong with your vehicle.
Bloated battery case
Swelling usually happens when the battery has overcharged. Heat and hydrogen gas build up faster than the battery dissipates, which can lead to the battery casing warping and expanding.
When a car battery leaks, it can be from several things. Leaks can form through the cell caps at the top of the battery, or through damage to the battery body. Overcharging can also damage the battery, or if it is subjected to extreme cold for a length of time. This may be noticeable from the rotten egg smell it produces.
Low battery fluid
While not a regular maintenance item, your car battery can run low on fluid. As a battery recharges, electricity flows through the water as it’s converted from original gasses of hydrogen and oxygen. This can sometimes lead to water loss, which will need to be replenished to keep it in good working condition.
The older your battery is, the greater chance it has of not working at its best.
If you’re not sure how old your battery is, there’s an easy way to tell. It has a creation date printed on it. This creation date is listed as a code with a letter and number. The letter corresponds to a month – A is January, B is February, and so on. The number gives you the final digit of the year – 8 would be 2018, 9 would be 2019, etc.
If your battery is more than four years old, it’s a good idea to plan on replacing it soon to avoid future issues associated with a weak battery. This gives you a chance to replace the car battery on your time rather than deal with an emergency situation somewhere away from home.
If you’re having battery problems, bring your car in and let one of our technicians test it to find out where the issue lies. We can service it as necessary, or suggest a new battery that will ensure your car’s safety.